4. Toward A Fulfilled Life - Real Stories
You'll find many people have already walked your path. These quotes are from real people who provide real information and real comfort. Follow the stories of Anne, Grace, Annabell and Sonya and you will see there's light at the end of the tunnel. The stories will give you practical ideas to better manage your situation.
Having thyroid cancer made me think carefully about the meaning of my life. I did a lot of thinking. I looked back a lot at all the time I had spent in this world and during that time I decided to live my life a bit differently from then. I wanted to live a peaceful, pure life full of love and contributing to my society and to the whole universe.
The whole experience helped me change my values which in turn helped me change the quality of my life. I used to focus on certain things, everyday things of normal life and suddenly they had no meaning for me. People pursue their jobs or money but [thyroid cancer] totally changed my values and these things were no longer important for me. I’m now more focused on my family, on my community, on being more connected with people.
Before my thyroid cancer I used to be worried about what I thought were big things but now I see they were small things. These little things used to easily upset me. After my diagnosis, once I know that my life may be short, that life is precious, I kind of do my best. I now do volunteer jobs at the citizen’s advice bureau and I help out at my children’s school. I enjoy my time now. I don’t know why I didn’t do these things before. My quality of life is now better.
Life is difficult. Making a living is hard and living is expensive but I approach these problems with a different attitude. That’s the good part for me. I realise worrying doesn’t help at all. It doesn’t stop us from coming up with a plan to fix the problem but I just worry about things less. I also socialize more, I’m more involved in my kids’ school, more involved with my community, which has helped me establish my self-esteem.
At the start, I decided I would seize the moment, make every day count. But with time I've found I tend to get sucked back into the rat race. Perhaps that's partly because my thyroid cancer treatment has gone so well that I've never really genuinely been scared that it might limit my life. If I was really fearful about the future then I think I would have made more major changes.
I don't like talking about it and I don't often allow myself to think about it. It really irritated me when other people made a fuss. I wanted to shut that down. I felt sort of fraudulent when people fussed about it. It made me feel embarrassed. There are other people with 'real' cancer who deserve this sympathy and I don't.
My thyroid cancer certainly brought it home that life was unpredictable and so I do think that I grasp opportunities more and don't think about money so much. I think I'm quite embedded that life's short, life's unpredictable. Perhaps some of that I think comes from age as well because by the time you get to my age  even if you haven't had something yourself, you know someone who has.
I’m a kind of glass-half-full sort of person and I think a positive outlook is really important. Each time a clinic visit or scan or appointment goes well, it just reminds me how blessed I have been.
I still have some trouble with my voice. I can’t sing the high notes anymore. I used to enjoy singing in a country band and in the church choir but I can’t do it anymore. It actually hurts to sing. But who cares? I’m alive! It’s a small price to pay. I just enjoy listening to other people now.
These stories and a simple, medical explanation of the thyroid cancer journey are packed into Dr Tom's book, Thyroid Cancer: Overcoming Fear & Finding Fulfillment. The book covers essential information and practical and emotional tips to get through thyroid cancer.